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Can Humans Get Fleas From Dogs? Symptoms & What to do

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Humans get fleas from dogs, especially in case of massive infestations. You typically find fleas on the feet, ankles, and lower legs because they can’t jump higher, but you can also find them in your hair. Clean your house regularly and kill the fleas on your dog to get rid of them.

Dogs become infested with fleas at least once in their lives. Only half of the dog owners realize their pet has fleas.

When dogs aren’t given antiparasitic substances for prevention, they can attract fleas from the garden, parks, other animals, or infested homes.

Signs of flea infestation in dogs include intense scratching, biting and excessive licking, inflammation of the skin, and hair loss.

But fleas aren’t just a pain for dogs. They can also infect humans.

In this article, you will learn how people get fleas from dogs, what flea bites look like on humans, what to do if you see fleas, and more.

How Can People Get Fleas from Dogs?

People can get fleas from heavily infested dogs. Fleas usually live on animals they prefer as their main host, such as dogs, but there are cases where they can accidentally parasitize humans. This is one of the reasons it is recommended to prevent flea infestations in pets.

People can get fleas from their dog in two ways:

  1. Direct
  2. Indirect

Direct Contact

Adult fleas rarely jump from one animal to another or from animal to human, but there are exceptions. This happens if you are in direct contact with an infected pet.

Direct Contact with dog

Indirect

Fleas on a massively infested dog fall off into the environment, often your home or garden. 

The most common places in the house where you can find eggs, larvae, pupae, or adult fleas are:

  • Carpets
  • Furniture (sofa, bed)
  • Your dog’s bedding
  • Cracks in the wall
  • Floors

Although fleas lay their eggs in your dog’s fur, they are not sticky and fall off easily. The larvae hatch from the eggs, feed, and enter the pupa stage. The adult flea comes out of the pupa, actively looking for food, and if you are in the area, it can infest you.

Can Fleas Get in Human Hair?

Although it is very rare for fleas to be found in human hair, it is possible. Fleas can find a good place in the human hair to take their next blood meal if there are no pets in the area to feed on. They feel much more protected in the human hair than on hairless areas of our body.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Humans

Get rid of fleas with a bath. A bath is typically enough to get rid of the fleas on your body. You can wash your hair with regular shampoo and comb with it a thick comb if you have fleas in your hair. 

You can also prepare a tea tree shampoo to kill the fleas:

  1. Add 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil to your regular shampoo.
  2. Wash, comb, and rinse your hair well.
  3. Repeat if necessary.

You need to eliminate the source of your flea infestation is repetitive. Kill the fleas on your dog and use pesticides or natural ingredients (borax, salt, baking soda, essential oils, etc.) to get rid of fleas in the house.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Humans

What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Humans?

Flea bites look like little red dots, which are often grouped together. Flea bites are smaller than mosquito bites but just as itchy. 

We all know what a mosquito bite looks like. A flea bite is smaller than a mosquito bite but just as itchy, if not worse.

Flea bites usually appear in clusters of 2-3, but there are times when they bite in a straight line. In some cases, a light halo can appear around them.[1]

Flea bites are most often found in the following areas:

  • Feet
  • Ankles
  • Lower legs

Symptoms of flea bites on humans:

  • Small red spots that sometimes have a halo around them.
  • Swelling around the bite.
  • Bites in a straight line or groups of three.
  • Itching.
  • Intense scratching.
  • Rash.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Humans
Image Source

How to Treat Flea Bites on Humans?

To treat flea bites, start by washing the area with warm water and soap to prevent infection.[2] Avoid scratching the bite site as it can become infected.

You can try anti-itch creams, ointments, lotions, or various home remedies, such as:

  • Ice packs
  • Aloe Vera
  • Tea tree oil
  • Vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol

Are Dogs’ Fleas Dangerous to Humans?

Fleas are considered dangerous to humans because they can transmit diseases or cause generalized allergic reactions, as they do to dogs. Fleas can transmit tapeworms, cat scratch disease, plague, and other diseases to humans.

Dog fleas usually don’t bite people, but it can happen. They can be dangerous and are considered a risk to human health. In addition to causing infections and irritations, fleas can spread diseases or cause life-threatening allergic reactions.

Allergic reactions to flea bites in humans are usually considered medical emergencies and are manifested by:

  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath, wheezing)
  • Swelling of the face, lips, and tongue
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
Are Dogs’ Fleas Dangerous to Humans

The diseases transmitted to humans are the same as those transmitted in flea bites on dogs, being represented by:

Tungiasis: Caused by sand fleas (Tunga penetrans). The female flea burrows into the skin to lay eggs and causes pain and infection.

Tapeworms: Ctenocephalides felis fleas can be infested with tapeworm eggs. A person can get tapeworms if they swallow an infested flea.

Cat scratch disease: Ctenocephalides spp. fleas are responsible for transmitting the bacterium Bartonella spp. It is transmitted when infected flea feces come in contact with a lesion on the person’s body.[3]

Plague: The plague-causing bacterium (Yersinia pestis) is transmitted when a person swallows a flea or comes in contact with its infected feces.[4]

Typhus: Caused by Rickettsia typhi, a microorganism that is transmitted through the bite of an infected flea.[5]

What to Do if You See Fleas on You?

The first step is to check your dog for fleas if you have pets. Then you have to get rid of your dog’s fleas, clean the house, and eventually apply pesticides. Make sure your dog does not ingest pesticides, as they can cause severe intoxications.

Fleas do not appear out of the blue. They come from pets, are brought by you on your clothes, or enter through cracks or uninsulated places.

If you see fleas on you, you need to find the source. 

Here’s what to do if you find fleas in your home:

  1. Check your dog for fleas. Kill the fleas on your dog if it has any by using veterinary antiparasitic products.
  2. Cover or insulate the cracks in the house if they exist.
  3. Use pesticides in your home and garden to get rid of fleas. You can vacuum the house regularly if you can’t obtain pesticides.
  4. You can use a steam vacuum on carpets, sofas, beds, etc.

FAQs

Can Fleas From Dogs Live on Humans?

Fleas from dogs do not live on humans, but accidental parasitism can occur. This means fleas on your dog can feed on you if your pet has a massive infestation.

Can Fleas Live In Your Bed?

Fleas can live in your bed, sofa, or carpets. These places provide them with a good hiding place. Steam vacuum your bed or use salt or borax to get rid of fleas. For salt or borax, you should wait at least 12 hours until you vacuum.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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